Saturday, October 31, 2009

Deleted Scenes

Haven't been posting much lately due to an oddly busy week. I was laid up with a nasty cold for a couple of days, in addition to all of my year-in-review TFC stuff (which, unfortunately, I'm writing now instead of two, three or four weeks from now in the midst of the MLS Cup playoffs). Even worse, what few posting ideas I did have were quickly made irrelevant by various events. For instance....

* Paul Beeston was hired as the Blue Jays' team president, thus big-footing my planned post wherein I'd write my cover letter for applying to said job. Now sure, I'm not technically qualified for this job, but that didn't stop them from hiring Paul Godfrey. My resume speaks for itself --- winner of a baseball fantasy league, former bar doorman ("My security background would help better control the rowdy Opening Day crowds!") and my sterling writing ability would've led to no shortage of scathing op-eds in response to local media who would dare question my moves. Trust me, had the Star's Morgan Campbell wondered why my first order of business as president was to have a giant bronze statue of myself erected in front of the Rogers Centre, my response would've been a masterpiece of wit. Or, just a 1000-word rant that could've been just summarized as 'sez you.' I would've been a great candidate, but I guess Paul Beeston is also good. I guess.

* I also had a post/poll ready asking what I should be for Halloween, with a number of increasingly bizarre options that ranged from "Pinhead from Hellraiser" to " 'The Battle of Milvian Bridge,' by 16th-Century Mannerist Artist Giulio Romano." But then, well, I had a Halloween party on Friday night, so time was of the essence. My eyes darted around the room, falling on my Roberto Clemente throwback Pirates jersey. Then, I looked down at my computer and noticed my USB cord. So, I simply wore the jersey and hung the cord around my neck and went as 'Pirating Cable.' There was a whole two minutes of thought put into that costume, but hey, at least it was cheap. The Halloween party was fun, by the way. The top costume of the bunch was probably my friend Noah, who came as struggling drywall salesman Steve Hawerchuck. The only downside is that Noah went around literally giving 5-10 minute sales pitches for drywall all night, so if you got stuck in a corner with him, you'd better have been prepared to keep up the improv until he was done.

So those were my two big post ideas for the week, and now they're both totally gone by the wayside. Blergh. What could possibly cheer me up?

Oh wait, THIS.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Birthday Bat Fight

Whenever your party is held the day before your actual birthday, you should remember that it means your actual b-day will involve a little bit of sufferin'. I've spent the day auditioning for the Bradley Cooper role in Hangover 2, except minus the tazing and stealing a tiger from Mike Tyson. Instead, I nicky-nicky-nine doored George Chuvalo. (btw, I'm in the Cooper role because nobody can replace Galifianakis, and I think the Ed Helms role was already filled by my pal Matt, who married a stripper. Wait, on second thought, he might have just bought her a drink. Wait, on third thought, it wasn't a stripper, but rather my friend James. Hmm, my apologies to all, especially James, who is a much better actor than Heather Graham.)

Discoveries from last night's festivities....

* I can remember the lyrics to the Spice Girls' "Stop" just as well drunk as I do sober. Either way, it's still strange.

* A surprisingly large number of my friends have been to Salt Lake City.

* Facebook needs to highlight their 'event invitations' block far more prominently on the main page.

* Leaving a prank-call voice message displaying mock outrage at a non-attendee is the kind of joke that seems a lot less funny the next day.

* If someone brings cupcakes to a birthday party, they will be devoured quicker than if you dump a pig into a piranha tank.

* The polar bear is my favourite shot, thus leading to the line "I've got more polar bears in me than the Dharma Initiative."

* If Toronto's pizza establishments say they're open until 3 AM, they really mean they're jerks who lock up at 2:45.

Thanks to all who attend l'affair d'Mark last evening, and your presence earned you a present. Please enjoy a bat fight.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


As you all know, I really enjoy "discovering" established bands and then delving headlong into their discography. My latest 'find' are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which came about for a number of reasons. First off, 'Zero' is arguably my favourite song of the year. The YYYs rocked it out on SNL last spring, and hearing it again on the radio while driving down Queens Quay on a rainy August night really brought it alive for me. (If this was Twitter, the previous sentence would have a #lameattemptatsettingthemood tag on it.) Secondly, and this one is a bit stranger, 'Maps' has become my signature song on Rock Band. There are very few tunes that I can perform reasonably well given my Johnny Cash-meets-Eddie Vedder-meets-someone who can't sing voice, but for some reason, 'Maps' falls right in my ballpark. Maybe it's because MAP is also my initials, so I'm just presuming the song is about me on a subconscious level. If I'm ever asked to give a live show of every music video game song I know, it'll be Maps, followed by 'Song 2' and 'Feel Good Inc.' off of Singstar (apparently I sound like Damon Albarn?) and then a rocking rendition of Matthew Sweet's "Girlfriend" from Guitar Hero. And that'll be it. A four-song concert. Still less of a ripoff than a Guns n'Roses ticket.

But anyway, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. All of those factors coalesced at the same time, thus causing me to buy their latest record "It's Blitz," which is my album of the year thus far. Let's face it, given how little new music I listen to anymore, it'll probably end up taking the prize for 2009 if Kyle, Misha and I decide to do another massive list of our annual favourite records. I's B is a terrific blend of guitar and synth rock, powered by Karen O's one-of-a-kind voice. The YYYs aren't going to blow anyone away with their lyrics, but their songs are almost like pop music's answer to tribal chants. They're repetitive, but good repetitive, and the songs have enough hooks to stay fresh and also know not to wear out their welcome. I's B is the Yeah Yeah Yeah's third record, and it's a great sign that their albums are becoming both better and more interesting over time, rather than staying within one style or (even worse) trying to change just for the sake of being different or weird, a.k.a. Radioheading.

Funny story: I bought It's Blitz, loved it, and then decided to check out Ticketmaster to see if the YYYs were coming to Toronto anytime soon. Turns out I missed them at the Warehouse by literally two days. Ouch. Instead I had to go see the Snipes. BOOOOO. (In all seriousness, yayyyy. My pal Aron is in the band and I didn't have to lie and say that they were good in an attempt to save his feelings since they really were good. Genuinely good, not just 'good for a band that my mate is in' good. My only criticism is their lack of songs about Wesley Snipes.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Paranormal Activity

You know those few moments of darkness between the end of the movie and when the theatre turns on the house lights? When your horror movie has people in the audience yelling 'TURN ON THE LIGHTS!' since they can't bear those few moments, you know you've got a winner on your hands. Paranormal Activity is the best horror movie I've seen in ages. I beg of you, see it in a theatre, preferably a busy one. There are few film experiences better than seeing a genuinely great horror or suspense flick amidst a packed house that is really wrapped up in the story.

Ten years after the Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity uses a similar "real footage" shooting style to investigate a monster not in the woods, but in a young couple's suburban condo. Micah and Katie (the unknown actors' real names) decide to set up a camera and sound equipment to try and make sense of the mysterious occurrences that have been taking place in Katie's life since childhood. She seems to regard these things as more of a curiosity at first, whereas Micah sees the whole thing basically as an excuse to play around with his new camera. The movie is shot with as little artifice as possible and doesn't include opening or closing credits, but rather just a thank you to Micah and Katie's families and the San Diego Police Department. Yeah, that's not ominous....

Now, I mentioned 'Blair Witch' earlier since it's almost impossible to avoid a comparison, but I think I actually preferred Paranormal Activity since the story seems more streamlined (there's no scene here where someone throws a map in the river for no reason) and, whereas the scares in BWP came from never actually seeing the Witch, here you do see things, or perhaps more accurately the results of things. A whole lot is done within that one nicely-framed tableau of Micah and Katie's bedroom. I'm trying to be as oblique as possible since it would be unfair to reveal any of the surprises, but the 'events' of PA follow a gradual crescendo before peaking at the ending. If you didn't like Blair Witch because you didn't think anything happened, well, brother, do things ever happen in Paranormal Activity.

Bottom line is, the movie is creepy as hell. No matter how jaded you are about horror movies, you're going to jump and possibly shriek like a little girl at least once. I, myself, was responsible for at least one 'OH FUCK' that was probably said a few decibels too loud, but in my defense, I was drowned out by several straight-up screams from people around me. (It's the scene at the end of the movie. You'll know it when you see it.) In fact, I considered making this whole review just the running commentary that the teenagers behind me provided for the entire film. It was basically just, "Oh no....oh no....FUCK....what is this thing, bro?.....Ahhhhhh!!!!......Shit, man!.....I can't look anymore, holy fuck......" It was pretty much the same as how I sounded while watching Transformers 2, except in a different context.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Out-Of-Context Texts In My Phone Inbox, Vol. 3

As always, the identities of the original texters will remain a secret forever. FOREVER!!!!

"By fountain."

"Hey, this is Christine's friend Jen. :) When she has a sec, can she call me? Thanks!"

"I'm in the USA without any data. Any chance you can pass on the L.A.-Philadelphia score?"

"Wine!! Where are you?"

"Larkin just shouted hello from a car the other day."

"Oh! Would love to but I have a date! How are you?"

"Hey! I know it's late notice, but we're doing a bit of drinking for my birthday tonight. The plan is to have a few drinks."

"Watch out for signposts."

"Well...I guess we save a little money."

"Is that how you say hello where you're from?"

"Neggo. (y)"

"Ha ha, thanks! What?"

"Indoors, in Roots."

"Hmm, hmm?"


"I put that football offer back up."

"Hey, you ever read Great Gatsby? I just started it. You around this aft for a video conference?"

"So what was the occasion the other night?"

"I hate the fucking Yankees."

"Louise wanted me to remind you of the Sens' victory."

"No worries, buddy. I'm going to hold you to that.....unless said shot is a prairie fire."


"Bene. You nap yesterday and sleep in today?"

"Yo, wino, what up?"

"Just landed in Charlotte on my way to Indianapolis. Ned Jarrett was in the seat behind me. Thought you might be passably interested."

"730 sounds good."

"What'd you think of her?"

"Awesome!! Congrats. Where at?"

"What the FUCK was Granderson doing there? For fuck's sakes...."

"Ah, chardonnay. So, I guess no Detroit now...."

"Hi! Not sure if you got my e-mail. Can we switch to Wednesday? Too busy at work today."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Words fail me.

Harold Ballard = worst owner in sports history. You can take your Ford families, your Ted Stepiens, your Donald Sterlings, etc. This tops them all.

Somewhere in Toronto, five sportswriters have already begun work on their alternate-history novels about how this franchise swap would've affected NHL and/or Canadian history over the last 30 years.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mouse In Da House

Has 'mouse' become one of those terms that has taken on such a new meaning that it has usurped the original meaning? My computer mouse recently died on me, and when I mentioned to a few folks that "my mouse died," the reaction was instantly "oh, there's an Apple Store at the Eaton Centre" or "is it still under warranty?" Nobody stopped to consider that I had actually owned a pet mouse who had passed on to that great brick of cheese in the sky. True, it's not like I've developed a reputation as the kind of guy who collect rodents, but still, even though mice are still a significant part of modern life, the word 'mouse' in conversation will instantly turn things towards computers, eight times out of ten. Are there other terms like this? The only one off the top of my head is 'clothesline,' which has come to mean the act of colliding with a horizontal object rather than an actual line on which one hangs clothes. I may be biased about this given that I watched a lot of pro wrestling as a kid and a guy on Survivor last week literally clotheslined himself on his camp's clothesline while running around after an escaped chicken.

Anyway, my new mouse isn't an exact copy of my old one. My former mouse was a wireless; the new one has a wire. My mouse has a tail! It was a wild couple of years living the wireless mouse experience, but now I'm ready to go back to the security of having a big ol' cord. Bluetooth's unreliability was a pain in the ass. One time at work, Bluetooth inexplicably shut off just minutes before game-time. It thankfully fired up again at the opening whistle, but just imagine --- I would've had to have used the computer's keypad. EWWWWW. What am I, Jonas Salk? Sorry, I live in the 21st century, when mice are abundant.

The only downside to having a wired mouse is that I can no longer 'name' it. With a wireless mouse, you have to give it a little name so the Bluetooth can identify it and ask you if this is the mouse that you want to connect to. My old name (Mark's Mouse) was a paean to originality, so I decided to switch it up a bit and title my new one 'Maus' in a shout-out to the legendary graphic novel. Unfortunately, since the cord does the identifying for me, no name was necessary. Sorry, Art Spiegelman. I'll have to find some other way to pay tribute to you. Plan B: have ART SPIEGELMAN tattooed across my back in bright turquoise letters.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Baseball playoff predictions

After being dead solid perfect in last year's baseball playoff predictions, maybe I should be putting some cash down on these picks. Then again, the odds of lightning striking twice are about the same as the odds of the Tigers blowing a three-game lead with four games to play....wait....

Red Sox over Angels.....I'm going to keep picking Boston over the Angels until LAA actually steps up and proves they can beat these guys in the post-season. L.A. has the better and deeper team on paper, but history is too overwhelming in this case. Hilariously, the Angels dominate the Yankees, but just keep drawing the damn Red Sox in the opening round. I can almost see just how this one plays out: the Red Sox split in Anaheim and then win two aggravatingly close games at Fenway Park. Rinse, repeat, Boston wins in four.

Cardinals over Dodgers.....I realize that Randy Wolf has been revitalized in the kids' league known as the National League West, but c'mon, I cannot seriously pick a team that is sending him to the mount as a Game One starter in a playoff series. The Dodgers looked like NL favorites all season long, but St. Louis is just a bad matchup with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright going in the first two games. Ace + rising star > washed-up vet and virtually untested-in-the-playoffs rising star. St. Louis wins a tight one in the full five games.

Yankees over Twins.....Ok, time to reveal The Curse Of The Tickets. My buddy Trev bought Tigers playoff tickets last week, when it looked as if Detroit was just going to waltz into the post-season. So I've spent the last two weeks worrying that Game Three of the ALDS would fall on the 10th, and thus I wouldn't be able to attend due to the Toronto FC-San Jose Earthquakes match at BMO Field. However, the Tigers made it all moot with their massive chokejob. Fortunately, the tickets are refundable, so Trev isn't out any coin, but even still. Given the Jays' woes, that might've been our best chance to see live playoff baseball for years to come. Thanks a lot, Fernando Rodney. Anyway, the Twins are lucky to be here and as much as I'd love to see them just take New York apart, let's be honest, the Yankees are much, much better. Minnesota wins Game Three at the Metrodome but New York wins in four.

Phillies over Rockies.....Cole Hamels struggled for most of the year but finally seemed to get his act together in September (3.32 ERA and 1.08 in six starts). If he's on his game and does what he did in last year's playoffs, then the Hamels-Cliff Lee combo is even deadlier than Carpenter-Wainwright. Philly just has to make sure that they keep Brad Lidge the hell away from a save situation. My roommate thinks the Phils should just make Pedro Martinez the closer, which would be a brilliant move. Closing would extend Pedro's career for another couple of years and in this particular season, might be enough to put the Phillies over the top for another World Series. The Rockies, I dunno. I'm just not feeling them. Barring a major Rocktober revival, Philadephia wins in phour.

Yankees over Red Sox.....Oh goody, the two most interminable-to-watch teams in baseball squaring off. When the media complains about how ballgames are too long or too boring, I hope they realize that it's basically just these two teams with the pitch-taking and the foul balls and the stalling and the GLAYVEN. Ideally, a meteor hits the stadium and Cardinals-Phillies becomes the de facto World Series, but since it's not 2012 and we don't know if the Mayans were right anyway, I'll just pick the Yankees and their crazy-good lineup. Their hitting is good enough to even withstand A-Rod's October fade-job that he's suffered through for his last three post-season appearances. The Josh Beckett-Jon Lester superduo that Boston send to the mound in the first two games won't quite be enough to withstand the Yankee bats. I'm just excited to see the debut of A.J. Burnett, Playoff Pitcher. The odds of a Rick Ankiel-esque meltdown are 8-1. Hopefully A.J. knows how to hit. Yankees in six.

Phillies over Cardinals.....Philly's playoff experience, superior overall pitching (Joel Pineiro is St. Louis' third starter? Yikes) and deeper lineup is enough to overcome the Cardinals. By this point I hope Pedro is closing, but just for kicks, if the Phillies get up 3-0 in the series and face a ninth-inning situation with Albert Pujols at the plate, Charlie Manuel should bring in Brad Lidge. I'd personally be interested to see if Pujols could top the cartoonishly mammoth homer he jacked off of Lidge in the 2005 NLCS. That homer was so devastating that it basically ruined Lidge's career for the next two years. Has a ball actually been hit out of new Busch Stadium? How about out of the hemisphere?

Phillies over Yankees.....Yeah, heart over head pick here, I'll admit it. But hey, the Phillies were the winners of my perfect 2008 playoffs, and obviously they're a good luck charm for me. I guess I should've mentioned this in my initial write-up about them, but Philly isn't going anywhere unless Chase Utley reverses his late-season slump. That bastard cost me a title in my one head-to-head fantasy league with his lousy September. Then again, his slump didn't cost me a title in the roto league I've been playing with my buddies for the last 11 years, and thus I finally won my first championship. Unbelievably, amazingly, for all of my baseball "expertise," I had never won a fantasy baseball league until this year. Not one. I'd won football, basketball, golf, hockey and even college basketball leagues in the past, but never a baseball league. Congratulations to my championship side, Whodat Singer (named after a vocalist on a 1990 Blue Jays K-Cel novelty album). If the planets aligned for long enough to deliver me a fantasy title, surely they might stick around to ensure a humiliating Yankees defeat in the World Series. Philadelphia wins in six, and Robin Roberts pumps his fist in satisfaction over his team avenging their defeat in the 1950 World Series. Wait, is Robin Roberts still alive? *checks Wikipedia* Yes, yes, he is. Good for him!


If I had a vote on baseball's award winners...

AL MVP: Joe Mauer, Twins. No-brainer. Not to diss Johnny Bench or anything, but Mauer is well on his way to becoming the best catcher in the history of the sport.

AL Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Blue Jays. Yep. Doc had 17 starts against Boston, New York, Tampa Bay and Anaheim this season, posting a 2.93 ERA against those mighty bats. Zach Greinke? A mere five starts against those teams (none against the Yankees), and...well, okay, a 2.11 ERA, but still, seventeen is greater than five. As ridiculous as Greinke's season was, pitching against the AL Central is like a college pitcher throwing against grade-schoolers. If you put Halladay on the Tigers, he wins a minimum of 25 games. (If he pitches in the NL West, he might put up one of those crazy Old Hoss Radbourn 39-victory seasons.) Joe Posnanski may come after me with a shotgun for suggesting that anyone but Greinke should win the AL Cy, but the fact that Halladay is able to put up such stellar numbers in the toughest division in baseball makes him the pick.

AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Bailey, Athletics. Guys like Gordon Beckham and Nolan Reimold had good, but not overwhelming, rookie seasons. Bailey had a 226 ERA+ and a 3.79 K/BB ratio as Oakland's closer. That's pretty goddamn overwhelming.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. No-brainer.

NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, Giants. Lots of really good arms in the NL that you could make a case for, but Lincecum's 117-strikeout advantage over Chris Carpenter overcomes Carpenter's 0.24 ERA advantage. Just imagine how many games Lincecum could win if his team had more than one good hitter!

NL Rookie of the Year: Tommy Hanson, Braves. Atlanta quietly put together one of the best pitching staffs in the majors last season. Between Javy Vazquez, Jair 'The Dutch Dominator' Jurrjens, rookie star Hanson, back-from-injury Tim Hudson and....well, take your pick between the okay Kenshin Kawakami or the overall crappy Derek Lowe, but who cares, that's only the fifth spot in the rotation. These starters were the big reason why the Braves almost snuck in the NL wild card in the last week of the season. Hanson debuted with a 2.89 ERA and 2.52 K/BB ratio in 22 starts, so it looks like this big prospect will continue to deal the goods for years to come at Turner Field. Geez, who wrote that last sentence? Johnny Generic?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Karl Pilkington and HOCKEYBEAR!!!

Another video-link post, this one in tribute to two major things that took place this past weekend. One, the release of The Invention Of Lying, the new Ricky Gervais movie. Two, the full-blown opening of the new NHL season. If you combined the two, I guess the result would be a movie about either Gary Bettman, or the first man who ever said that Vesa "Red Light" Toskala was an NHL-caliber goaltender.

First, Gervais. Aside from the original Office and 'Extras,' perhaps his greatest masterpiece is actually his podcast series with collaborator Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington. Over time, the show evolved from the Ricky-and-Stephen show to the two of them almost taking a back seat to the unintentionally hilarious stories and observations from their dim-witted producer Karl. Ricky Gervais laughing is perhaps just as funny as Gervais' comedy bits altogether. A lot of the podcasts can be found on YouTube, but perhaps the funniest one ever featured Gervais' greatest reaction to one of Karl's stories. "OH!.....GOD!" Ricky is in hysterics, Stephen just sounds dumbfounded trying to figure out Karl's nonsense.

Now, onto hockey. I used to think that Maple Leafs mascot Carlton the Bear was a big deal, but that was before HOCKEYBEAR swooped into my life. Imagine the 'angry blue jay' animation they used to show before Blue Jays games, except multiplied by a zillion and featuring a polar bear.

Two bits of greatness make this clip even better. I found this clip on, of all places, a University Of Iowa fan blog, and the original poster and a commenter had a great tete-a-tete about just how incredible HOCKEYBEAR was as both a mascot and, apparently, as an intergalactic herald of Galactus.


Let's recap what just happened. The mascot did all of the following in rapid succession:

1. Appeared from a constellation (Ursa Major, to be precise, and folks, this is one major fucking Ursa)
2. Exploded in a blue nuclear shockwave that destroyed an entire planet that was probably full of nonbelievers
3. Flew around space to Kenny Loggins' classic "Highway to the Danger Zone," even though you're not supposed to be able to hear things in space
4. Acquired a cosmic hockey stick from who the fuck knows where
5. Made its own fucking wormhole for intergalactic travel
6. Growled at everybody and bared its teeth
7. Used said cosmic hockey stick to knock a satellite into another dimension for no discernable reason
8. Made our moon completely explode by flying very close to it and growling again extra hard
9. Came to Earth in order to flatten the entire city of Anchorage with its atomic bomb powers
10. Ran over 300 miles to Fairbanks in about 5 seconds instead of showing remorse over the genocide it just committed
11. Found the one building in the entire city with electricity and tore its roof off
12. Jumped into said arena and wrecked the playing surface the teams were hoping to use
13. Made Metallica's music play sheerly by force of will, and the good Metallica, none of this Whiskey in the Jaro shit
14. Went back into his own logo, which is now covered in exploding blue flames

Con....."I don't understand why I am supposed to cheer for this bear?"

He blew up most of the galaxy, probably fucked up someone’s DirecTV service by blowing up that satellite, causingthem to a miss an important football game, and the destroyed the moon (which can’t be a good thing for Earth. I assume at the very least the tides get all fucked up, and at most large chucks of it start falling towards earth and cause Armegeddon, which was a really bad movie). And that was just while he was still in space! Once he landed, he flattened a city and killed millions (I assume it was a rival city but still!), trampled the beautiful Alaskan wilderness, and then fucked up the home stadium and ice of the team he ostensibly cheers for.

Plus, he clearly understands the secrets of interstellar travel, but refuses to share them. How the fuck am I supposed to visit Degobah and party with Yoda if he doesn’t tell me how? No, asshole, “roar” is not an answer!

Basically what I’m saying is that this bear is a dick, and I hate him. Even if he does spontaneously generate awesome music.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Mad Men Muppets

Reason #56 why Pete Campbell might be the best character on Mad Men --- even his spoofs are funny. Will Forte busted out a hilarious impression of ol' Pete on SNL last year, and now Sesame Street chimes in with their puppet version of him, plus Harry Crane to boot. Maybe the Pete puppet should have a father-son reunion with the puppet version of Angel.

I presume the Sesame Street folks had a Joan Holloway muppet ready to go, except they couldn't put it on air for fear of sexually arousing too many young children. "Mommy, does that girl muppet want some fries with that shake?"